Lindsey Hunter is the Phoenix Suns’ interim head coach

Updated 12:10 a.m. — Lindsey Hunter is the next man up. The Phoenix Suns announced on Sunday morning that the player development coordinator will take over after head coach Alvin Gentry and the team decided to part ways on Friday morning.

The two-day discussion may have taken longer than some liked, whether that be because of the numerous candidates within the Suns organization to become the interim coach or otherwise.

On Saturday, The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro wrote that the list of names only extended past the two frontrunners in Hunter and defensive guru and lead assistant Elston Turner. Dan Majerle’s candidacy had support from within the Phoenix locker room, and Igor Kokoskov was also in the mix.

But this all comes back to the future. The hiring of Hunter, a 17-year NBA veteran without much coaching experience, was all to develop youngsters like Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris, and even to an extent older players like Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.

Whether Hunter is in a position to succeed remains to be seen.

Expectations are low, but nevertheless, moving forward in this manner will surely test the coach’s experience. Hunter was hired onto the Suns’ scouting staff in 2012 and named the player development coordinator before the beginning of this season.

He held a similar position with the Chicago Bulls upon his retirement, but only retired as a player in 2010.

Update: It appears that the Suns’ coaching staff shakeup may not be limited to Alvin Gentry’s departure. Paul Coro reports neither Majerle nor Turner were at Hunter’s first practice on Sunday, though Lance Blanks said all the assistants were given the opportunity to return.

More interesting news was Blanks’ assertion that the Suns players told management that Hunter was a favorite of theirs. This comes after Coro reported that some players liked Majerle as a replacement for Gentry.

  • Harry

    So the Suns hire a coach with ZERO coaching experience, who’s 38 years old with little creed and who as a player had a good bit of talent (number 10 draft pick) but was never able to fulfill that talent. Now he’s supposed to “develop” talent. Why couldn’t he do it for himself? This plan is brilliant. What could go wrong?

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Everything you just typed is exactly why he’ll finish out this season and then the team won’t retain him. He’ll be gone with a lot of the current roster.

    You don’t bring – no, wait. TOP LEVEL coaches don’t often just step into a situation like this one, mid-season. Why when the job will be there in the off-season when you can help clean house and start clean with guys you may have had some input in drafting?

    Heh. You can really tell that the Suns have had a really good long winning run. One down season and most fans are flinging poo at the walls.

  • Scott

    I’d say that if there was any internal struggle, Blanks won, because I see Hunter as his type of guy.

    The problem going forward, however, is that Blanks is not a Suns type of guy.

  • Ty-Sun

    Well, the way I look at it is that because of his lack of coaching experience Hunter should have almost zero expectations of actually being made the head coach next season. Because of that he probably won’t be tempted to do the same thing Gentry did and only play the best players he has on the roster. If trying to develop the younger players really is the objective for the rest of this season, we really don’t want an interim coach that will be tempted into looking at the rest of this season as an audition and not really work on player development.

  • Russell Suns fan

    In order for things to change this team needs to bring in a new front office. I would love for Colangelo to come back but that’s a dream. But regardless, change starts with the front office, the current FO has proven incapable of evaluating talent and they need to go.

  • john

    @Russell- change comes with the movement of time whether we want it or not.

    Also, how would colangelo help? What do you think an owner does? And, btw, how many more NBA championships does colangelo have as an owner than Sarver?

    Rich is spot on, as usual.

  • The Playa

    This management team continues to perplex beginning with the Nash trade in exchange for a bag of basketballs. Now we’re supposed to swallow this? I’m certain that we’ll win games against every other development team in the league. How many of those are there again?

  • bill.thomas

    This fiasco is beginning to rival the Mantei Teo mess.

    FREE DRAGIC !!!!!!

  • DBreezy

    If Hunter is really the up an coming coaching candidate he’s been portrayed as, it’s even more outrageous to put him in this failing situation and then let him go at season’s end. People do notice such things around the league. While I agree that you aren’t going to get an established guy to come into a situation like this midseason, the impression you make now can affect what happens should u call those kinda of people this summer. I’m trying to recall a situation like this where the remaining bench coaches leave along with development guy who should have been in line for a promotion. Like it or hate it, you have to say wow.

  • john

    If those guys want to coach, money speaks louder than any other appeal. You people act as if top-tier coaches only coach in top markets, and you also act as if those markets were desirable before those coaches got there.

  • DBreezy

    I didn’t see anyone claim that top-tier coaches only coach in top markets. They do tend to follow the best talent and the biggest spending franchises on personnel and coaches. Often the latter tend to be in the top markets, but that’s not an absolute. The Suns do not have much talent and probably won’t realistically for another season or so at the earliest luck permitting, It’s also somewhat of an open question if Sarver will spend the money on that type of coach. Not just because of the standard debate over whether he’s cheap or not, but more because that’s a lot of money to spend for someone to coach a subpar roster.

  • john

    I also threw in the adjective “desirable.” I’m not talking just big. Coaches follow money more than anything else. Just like players.

  • Ty-Sun

    Now I suppose we just have to wait and see what happens. I was looking at the roster and only Dragic, Dudley, Scola and Frye have contracts that are completely guaranteed past next season. Out of those four I would say that only Frye doesn’t have some trade value. Scola can’t be traded until July 1 but any trades made before the trade deadline this season would make no sense unless they brought in younger players with future potential, draft picks and/or expiring contracts.

    If the Suns make any trades before the deadline that don’t bring back any of these things then they fully deserve all the condemnation and contempt that the fans can heap upon them. But if they can’t bring back any of these things, I would hope that they don’t make any trades before the deadline and wait until the off-season.

    But the first sign of things to come will be the next game. Will Hunter actually give the younger players significant playing time or just be more of the same? You can’t turn a Ford into a Ferrari by changing drivers.

  • Cam

    On a positive note, the Fakers lost to the Raptors. Let’s just hope that ball keeps on rolling. Losses for them means a win for us. If this FO can’t find a franchise player with two lottery picks, even in this draft, then they definitely need to be dropped. Hopefully The Shabazz ping pong ball bounces the Suns way. 6’6″ 225lbs. lefty. Apparently this guy has some fight in him. An article about him spoke about how he has a crazy aggressive work ethic in practice. That’s what the Suns need, someone with some drive. Maybe he can teach Beasley a thing or two. Put him next to Dragon or Marshall and see what happens. I’d like to see a double lefty back court. Go Suns.

  • Scott

    @Cam -

    I’m looking forward to the possibility of a juicy pick from the Lakers, as well. That would be twice as sweet, since not only would it be a high pick, it would be **the Lakers’ own lottery pick. **

    Y’know, if it actually happens, it will be more than twice as sweet, especially if the Suns draft a good guy. :)

    As for the rest of the season, I look forward to seeing what the young guys have got.

  • JD

    @ Rich Anthony

    I doubt that Hunter will be gone after this season. He is Blanks’ hand-picked candidate and I doubt that his appointment was done for the short term. First, Blanks got all his staff and players (Beasley, Brown, Telfair, Johnson, Morris, Marshall), and now he’s got his coach. This is a deliberate move on the GM’s part.

    The only was Hunter is gone after this season is if Blanks is also gone after this season.

  • FAR

    Time to sell this team to mark cuban, this FO suck the new name for team for years to come will be the phoenix SUCKS, hope Dan get a chance in the bulls wit Tom T. or in a wining organization,
    I’m sorry for us the next game will be a the record of empty seat all time for a nba team.

  • Scott

    @JD -

    An alternative possibility is that Mike Malone, another favorite of Blanks, takes over after Hunter.

    It may depend on how well Hunter does.

  • bill.thomas

    That Laker pick is looking better than ever. Kobe and Dwight really stunk up the joint today. Kobe was 10/32, he’s beginning to shoot like Beasley.

  • Scott

    @JD -

    Here’s a quote from Blanks about Hunter, from a recent article on ESPN:

    Hunter, 40, is the coach for the remaining 41 games of the season.

    After that, Blanks said, “we’ll open things back up and at that time select the best candidate, which may or may not be Lindsey.”

    “But he [Hunter] believes he can get us to the end of the season and do the things that we need done as an organization and most importantly for these guys on the floor,” Blanks added.

    As for the direction Hunter will take, he says he wants the Suns to play with passion and be nasty on defense.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    You know what’s funny? Look at this quote from Lon Babby (15th march 2012):

    “Our goal is to return the team to elite status, that is, to be legitimate championship contenders year in and year out. No excuses. Steps to achieve this goal began last season when basketball operations upgraded the scouting department and implemented an analytics-based player evaluation system ensuring every player we sign excels in playing ability, character and fit with the team. Rookie Markieff Morris was drafted as a result of his high assessment through this process. Balance is also important: youth must balance experience; offense must be in balance with defense.

    Moving into the offseason, we have the available cap room and support from ownership to go after impact players. This flexibility provides us with exciting opportunities and we are going to aim high, yet discipline in making sound and smart personnel decisions is crucial. We will protect our draft picks and also consider free agency, as we assemble an elite team.”

    Only lies. Lies, lies, lies. Why don’t they take the responsibility for their words?

  • JC

    I’m having a hard time connecting Beasley, Gortat, etc. with passion and nastiness on defense. What am I missing here?

  • azbballfan

    That quote that Babby said sounded like it was written by some corporate moron who doesnt know shit and sits behind a desk

    If Marshall was drafted because of your system, you have problems with your system.

    Marshall may have elite passing skills and good size for a point guard, but he has no real way to get to the basket, put up horrible shooting numbers in the D-League and plays worse defense than steve nash.

    Now he can work on these holes in his game

    But do you trust the Suns do actually develop and improve him?

    look at how terrible this team is on defense

    Babby and Blanks have been running the show for a while now, its not like they just got here.

    and how many young players have they developed since they got here?

    In fact this front office has done the opposite

    And what the F Babby? why did paul coro say the suns players wanted thunder dan but then you go and say they wanted hunter? and then dan doesnt show up at practice? so is he gone too?

    Thankfully, expectations will now be at zero since Hunter has no coaching experience at all.

    Zero expectations is what the front office should have had for this season.

    Its funny didnt they just say “This is a playoff team!” like what a week ago?

    This makes every other bad team in the NBA look like they have a plan

  • Scott

    @azbballfan -

    I understand what you’re saying about the Suns making those other bad teams look like they have a plan … but my conclusion is the Suns have the same plan as those perennially bad teams. ;)

  • Kendall Marsall

    I hear i’ll be getting good playing time, thank goodness thank you Lance, coach Hunter!

    Now anyone know where the neares iHops are?

    Follow me at Kbutter!

  • bill.thomas

    @Scott @JD: Great vote of confidence from the FO for Hunter, huh.

  • RD

    Every decision the FO makes gives me a headache. Hopefully Blanks/Babby are gone before the draft.

  • DBreezy


    I’d say odds of that aren’t good.

  • azbballfan

    Theres an ihop down the street from me on Power road after Guadelupe road but before Baseline

  • azbballfan

    I am trying to be positive.

    Maybe Hunter will get the front office to actually rebuild once trade offers go no where when no ones gonna want second round picks for established players.

    I want every player the Suns draft to be awesome

    I just dont trust the front office given their track record with the Suns.

    If the Suns are really going to develop marshall thats great, just put him next to Dragic (if he is around past the deadline) on the court.

    Get Morris some real consistent playing time too

    Hopefully the Suns can accomplish both goals developing talent and improving the team by getting a better draft pick.

    I will miss coach Gentry! he coached my favorite players

    Its just hard to be positive when the season has been this way

  • Lance Blanks

    Hey fans,

    I am truly looking forward to the townhall meetings me and Lon will be having with you all soon!

    Stay with us, we have a bright road ahead of us. The guys are excited with this hire, namely Kendall who has been looking for his opportunity along with all of us.

    We will right this ship!


  • Dennis Marshall

    Great! Now will my son finally get the playing time he deserves??

  • bk

    This proves that those who said SVG and another big names look kind of stupid…. haha.

  • Scott

    @bk -

    I think the possibility for bigger name coaches comes in the summer. With a season like this one, most likely you’d pick an interim coach and ride out the season with them.

  • Alvin Gentry

    I’ll be back next year don’t worry. This is just a plan Robert has to test team loyalty.

  • Dan S.

    @Alvin Gentry, Dennis Marshall


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  • Danc133

    Are you kidding me a guy with zero experience coaching and was the definition of mediocre as a player is now the head coach. The mutt I rescued from the pound has more of a pedigree. If I were Dan Majerle I wouldn’t have shown either after a blatent slap in the face like that. At least he has coached in the summer league Hunter hasn’t even done that. I am for the first time since 1971 ashamed to be a Sun’s fan.

    This is beyond tanking, I could understand that. It is an abomination and a slap in the face to anyone that loves basketball and this team. Hunter shouldn’t even coach a high school team.

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